Beror Ḥayil

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BEROR ḤAYIL (Heb. בְּרוֹר חַיִל), place in southern Israel, 8½ mi. (14 km.) S.E. of Ashkelon. In Byzantine times the town was called Bouriron (Vita Sabeae, 10). It was the place where R. *Johanan b. Zakkai moved and taught after his stay in Yavneh. When the performance of Jewish marriages was prohibited under Emperor Hadrian, in the second century c.e., the inhabitants of Beror Ḥayil announced a clandestine marriage ceremony by putting a candle on the window sill (Sanh. 32b). Beror Ḥayil is now a kibbutz affiliated with Iḥud ha-Kibbutzim. It was founded on May 4, 1948, during the War of Independence, with the aim of reestablishing contact with the Jewish settlements spread over the northern Negev at a point where the Arabs had repeatedly cut off Jewish traffic to and from the south. The kibbutz was set up overnight. The initial settling group, pioneers from Egypt, was later joined by immigrants from Brazil, Uruguay, and other countries. In 1968 the kibbutz had a population of 520, dropping to 462 in 2002. Its economy was based on intensive farming (field crops, greenhouses, dairy cattle, orchards) and various small enterprises (software, a frozen pastry plant, and an educational tourist center). In the early 1960s, the *Ḥeleẓ oilfield expanded southward when reserves were discovered at Beror Ḥayil (their exploitation was in no way connected, however, with the economy of the kibbutz).

[Efraim Orni]